BURLINGTON - School officials are working to gather sufficient feedback from parents, students and teachers regarding their feelings towards the remote learning process.

With Gov. Charles Baker canceling the rest of the academic school year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burlington parents have become de facto teachers with remote learning becoming the only mode of K-12 classroom education for students.

The Seesaw for Schools program has played a vital role in maintaining communication between instructors and students in Burlington. As an administrator, the program gives them an instant overview of what students are learning and their progress towards standards. It also provides real-time data to support teachers and improve family engagement throughout the remote learning process.

Families have been engaged with remote learning since school buildings closed this past March. In an effort to get feedback on how the process has gone thus far, school officials have begun conducting preliminary surveys through Panorama Education.

The company provides surveys to see how data plays a powerful role in improving school climate and culture, teaching and learning, family and community engagement, and student social-emotional learning. They are headquartered in Boston and support over 9 million students in 11,500 schools, 900 districts, 46 states, and 15 countries. Burlington is one of their newest clients. The surveys are online. Panorama Education was initially intended to be utilized by the district for an equity survey before the school buildings closed. However, as a result of COVID-19, their work shifted to remote learning survey questions.

At this point, the only survey conducted revolved around feedback from parents.

“I think this information is going to help us as we return in the fall,” School Supt. Dr. Eric Conti said to the School Committee, noting it won’t be the last survey this year. “It is always important that we get input when we go through the type of process that we are going through.”

How do parents feel?

As of the time this information was unveiled at the School Committee’s most recent meeting on May 26, Assistant School Supt. Patrick Larkin confirmed 759 of the district’s parents responded to the survey. He called the preliminary survey results of parents, “The start of the conversation” in regards to pursuing the best learning environment possible for remote learning.

Larkin outlined and discussed the five survey questions, specifically filled out by parents of students in Burlington. The answers to the questions primarily resulted in a favorable or unfavorable answer.

The questions

- Are you clear on your remote learning expectations for your child?

79 percent answered favorably; 21 percent answered unfavorably

- To what degree have the materials posted online for students or provided by teachers been helpful?

81 percent answered favorably; 19 percent answered unfavorably

- Describe your child’s overall experience with remote learning?

76 percent answered favorably (students are engaged/highly engaged); 24 percent answered unfavorably

- Do you feel the amount of work your child has received during remote learning has been appropriate, insufficient, or too much?

61 percent said appropriate; 20 percent said too much; 19 percent said insufficient

- The work my child is getting through remote learning is manageable for me, as a parent, to support?

65 percent answered favorably; 24 percent said they expect more out of students with less direction from parents

Larkin called the preliminary survey results generally encouraging right now, but emphasized the goal is to see the aforementioned favorability number increase as the district prepares for a likely remote learning scenario stretching into the start of school next year.

“It is like building a plane while we are flying it,” described Larkin. “These survey results are not so bad, but there is no reason to be satisfied with the numbers, especially when looking at where we hope to be in the long-run.”

This survey for parents was expected to be open for more responses through Monday, June 1. The next surveys are anticipated to take place in the coming weeks for teachers and students involved in the remote learning process.

The School Committee was pleased with Larkin’s initiative to move forward with the surveys. The members remain hopeful the feedback will benefit the district now and in the future.

“It is fairly interesting seeing this feedback,” remarked School Committee member Tom Murphy. “Hopefully we are able to get some useful information out of it, especially for the fall.”

School Committee member Martha Simon reiterated it is “good” to have this information, adding, “It will help us look forward and see the trends.”

The surveys for teachers and students will be taken in the coming weeks, so expect updates on those figures at upcoming School Committee meetings.

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